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Tri-State announces clean energy plan, retires coal assets

Yesterday, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association launched its "transformative" Responsible Energy Plan, which will "dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio." Last week, the utility announced the retirement of its last coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Colorado. These two announcements provide context for a presentation at the Ammonia Energy Conference in November 2019, entitled Market Integrated Ammonia. Its conclusion — highly relevant for a utility that is closing its coal plants and increasing renewables to 50% by 2024 — is that in a wholesale electricity market with increased volatility, renewable ammonia could be produced at the extremely low cost of $96 per tonne.

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Australian Company Advances Low-Carbon Hydrogen from Methane

Hazer Group, an Australian company with technology in development for the production of low-carbon hydrogen, had a busy 2019. In April the company announced that it had received its first Australian patent. In September, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the approval of “up to [AUD]$9.41 million in funding to Hazer … for the construction and operation of a groundbreaking hydrogen production facility in Munster, Western Australia.” In December Hazer announced that it was negotiating an agreement with industrial gas distributor BOC related to its Munster project. Last week the company announced that it had secured up to AUD$250,000 in grant funding from the Government of Western Australia for “a feasibility study on the creation of a renewable hydrogen transport hub." in the City of Mandurah.

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Ammonia energy is now a talking point for CEOs

Chief executives of major corporations are now talking about ammonia energy. This represents another crucial step up the learning curve for clean industry: knowledge about ammonia's potential has successfully spread from the R&D department to the executive suite. This is the difference between development and deployment. The fertilizer industry saw this in 2018, when the CEOs of first movers like Yara and OCP announced green ammonia pilot plants. These latest announcements come, however, from the shipping and power sectors — far bigger industries, with no existing ammonia business — and they focus on the use of green ammonia: for fuel and for profit.

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Green Ammonia Consortium: A Force for Ammonia Energy

Japan’s Green Ammonia Consortium, an industry body dedicated to building “a value chain from supply to use of CO2-free ammonia,” launched its Web site on December 5. The site features plenty of interesting content, but most significant may be the roster of members. Eighty seven companies, public organizations, and individuals are listed. Taken together they represent a significant force for ammonia energy implementation in Japan and beyond.

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Updating the literature: Ammonia consumes 43% of global hydrogen

For years, many people — myself included — have been saying that ammonia consumes 55% of the hydrogen produced around the world. Although there are many authoritative sources for this figure, I knew that it was likely out of date. Until now, I had overlooked the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2019 report, The Future of Hydrogen, which provides up-to-date (and publicly downloadable) data for global hydrogen demand since 1975. According to the IEA, ammonia represented almost 43% of global hydrogen demand in 2018; refining represented almost 52%, and "other" demands accounted for 6%.

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The cost of hydrogen: Platts launches Hydrogen Price Assessment

What does hydrogen really cost? Apparently, there's now a good answer to this question. $0.7955 per kg. This is according to the new daily hydrogen price assessment launched yesterday by Platts. Price assessments like this are invaluable for thriving markets, supporting transparency and developing into the benchmarks and indexes that underpin investments, trade, and regulations. This is a welcome innovation from the universe of financial product development. It will be interesting to see how Platts's hydrogen prices evolve, in terms of the cost structure of hydrogen production, of course, but also from the perspective of ammonia energy. If the purpose is to support commodity trading, these price assessments must eventually expand to include hydrogen carriers — molecules, like ammonia, that can be stored and transported more economically than hydrogen itself — in other words, commoditized hydrogen.

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Ontario Tech Develops Its Own Flavor of Direct Ammonia Fuel Cell

How simple can a fuel cell be? How about if it’s a direct ammonia fuel cell? This question came to mind during perusal of a paper that appeared in the June 2019 edition of the journal Chemical Engineering Science. The paper, “Development and performance evaluation of a direct ammonia fuel cell stack,” was written by Osamah Siddiqui and Ibrahim Dincer, both active within the Clean Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Canada. Their design may or may not ever reach the point of commercialization, but there is no denying its essential simplicity.

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Ammonia-fueled ships: entering the design phase

Three separate projects to design a range of ammonia-fueled vessels were announced last week at a shipping industry conference in China. Lloyd's Register has granted Approval in Principle (AiP) for the design of a 180,000 ton bulk carrier. ABS announced a project to "produce designs for an ammonia-fueled Chittagongmax container carrier of 2700 TEU capacity." And Lloyd's Register also announced a project for "an ammonia-fuelled 23,000 TEU Ultra-Large Container Ship (ULCS) concept design." All three projects are working with the two-stroke ammonia engine developed by MAN Energy Solutions, and all are led by major shipbuilders in China.

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Small-Scale Ammonia Synthesis Technology on Track for 2021

On October 6, 2019, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun published an article that confirmed a goal set at the 2017 launch of Japanese chemical technology developer Tsubame BHB. The goal is to have Tsubame’s ammonia synthesis technology ready for licensing in 2021. According to Tsubame’s English-language Web site, its technology “makes it possible to produce ammonia even at small-scale plants” – good news for ammonia energy project developers interested in distributed production concepts.